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http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=584&e=7&cid=584&u=/nm/20020905/pl_nm/iraq_usa_carter_dc Thu Sep 5,10:58 AM ET WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former President Jimmy Carter, warning against a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq, said on Thursday that Baghdad poses "no current danger to the United States," and also criticized America's drift away from its historical role as a global champion of human rights. Carter, a Democrat who served as U.S. president from 1977 to 1981, said that while Republican President Bush ( news - web sites) has reserved judgement, Vice President Dick Cheney ( news - web sites) and other top administration officials point to "a devastating threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction," and vow to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein with or without support from allies. "As has been emphasized vigorously by foreign allies and by responsible leaders of former administrations and incumbent officeholders, there is no current danger to the United States from Baghdad," Carter wrote in an opinion piece published in The Washington Post. "We cannot ignore the development of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, but a unilateral war with Iraq is not the answer. There is an urgent need for U.N. action to force unrestricted (weapons) inspections in Iraq. But perhaps deliberately so, this has become less likely as we alienate our necessary allies," Carter added. Carter also criticized America's move away from its role as a champion of human rights and a respected leader in the community of nations, arguing that "belligerent and divisive voices now seem to be dominant in Washington." "Formerly admired almost universally as the pre-eminent champion of human rights, our country has become the foremost target of respected international organizations concerned about these basic principles of democratic life," Carter said. "We have ignored or condoned abuses in nations that support our anti-terrorism effort, while detaining American citizens as 'enemy combatants,' incarcerating them secretly and indefinitely without their being charged with any crime or having the right to legal counsel," he added. 'LONG-PENT-UP AMBITIONS' Some of the positions "seem to be developing from a core group of conservatives who are trying to realize long pent-up ambitions under the cover of the proclaimed war against terrorism," Carter said. "Pre-emptory rejections of nuclear arms agreements, the biological weapons convention, environment protection, anti-torture proposals and punishment of war criminals have sometimes been combined with economic threat against those who might disagree with us," Carter wrote. "The unilateral acts and assertion increasingly isolate the United States from the very nations needed to join in combating terrorism." He also lamented that the United States was "abandoning any sponsorship of substantive negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis." In a separate development, a leading human rights group touched on some of the same issues mentioned by Carter in criticizing tactics used by the U.S. government in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights said in a 75-page report released on Thursday that since last Sept. 11, the government has denied some detainees access to lawyers, restricted public access to information, expanded search and seizure powers and broadened powers to intercept communications -- all in the name of national security. "Secrecy and lack of debate has been a particularly acute problem," the New York-based activist group said. "As changes have been made, and concerns raised -- by members of Congress across the political spectrum and by other mainstream voices -- the attorney general (John Ashcroft) or other administration officials have all too often dismissed them as irrelevant, harmful to the war against terrorism or even disloyal." -- __________________________________________________________ Sign-up for your own FREE Personalized E-mail at Mail.com http://www.mail.com/?sr=signup _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk